Letter to Roger Ailes (9/27/04)

September 27, 2004

Mr. Roger Ailes
Chairman and CEO
Fox News Channel
1211 Avenue Of The Americas
New York, NY 10036

Dear Mr. Ailes:

I am writing to request a correction of senior White House correspondent Jim Angle's misquote of statements made by Senator John Kerry during a 1997 appearance on CNN's Crossfire. Filling in for Brit Hume as host of Special Report on September 24, Angle repeated the false quotation, which The Washington Times's John McCaslin published in his “Inside the Beltway” column that day, citing New York Rep. Peter King. Angle repeated the quotation more than two hours after Media Matters for America (MMFA) had pointed out the misquotation on our website at 4:09 p.m. (ET):

ANGLE: John Kerry continues to slam President Bush for invading Iraq preemptively without sufficient support from world allies. But New York Republican Congressman Peter King says Kerry took a different position on CNN's Crossfire in 1997. King says Kerry appeared with him on the show just after France and Russia watered down a U.N. resolution on Iraq. And that Kerry said, quote, “We know we can't count on the French. We know we can't count on the Russians. We know that Iraq is a danger to the United States, and we reserve the right to take preemptive action whenever we feel it's in our national interest.”

MMFA research found that while Kerry did express frustration with French, Russian, and Chinese policies, he stood firm on a multilateral effort:

KERRY: I don't think anybody can deny that we would have liked it to have threatened force and we would have liked it to carry the term serious consequences will flow. On the other hand, the coalition is together. I mean, the fact is there is a unanimous statement by the Security Council and the United Nations that there has to be immediate, unrestricted, unconditional access to the sites. That's very strong language.

In addition to pointing out the misquote of Kerry, MMFA noted that McCaslin's column falsely claimed that “no Crossfire transcripts from 1997 are available,” even though such transcripts are easily available on the widely used Nexis research database. Given that every reporter knows about Nexis, why would a veteran FOX News Channel correspondent be willing to report hearsay about Kerry's appearance on Crossfire rather than checking the transcript himself? It is difficult to believe that not a single Special Report reporter or producer deemed it necessary to verify information about Kerry provided by a political partisan who openly opposes him.

MMFA sent a letter to Washington Times editor-in-chief Wesley Pruden requesting a correction, and the Washington Times published one in the September 25 edition of the newspaper (the correction appeared on the Washington Times website late on September 24). I look forward to seeing a correction on this evening's edition of Special Report as well.


David Brock
President and CEO
Media Matters for America

cc: Mr. Brit Hume, Managing Editor, Chief Washington Correspondent
James Eldridge, Senior Producer, Special Report with Brit Hume
Ms. Kim Schiller Hume, Bureau Chief, Washington, DC
Mr. Jim Angle, Senior White House Correspondent